While it's undeniable that Champagne (the real stuff from said region of France) reigns king on New Year's, we've recently been paying respects to its just-as-tasty (and much more affordable) cousin, sparkling wine. If you're looking for a festive end-of-year alternative to all those reds you've been pairing with your holiday fare, head to Napa to sample some of the best sparkling wines in the Valley. Here's a look at four of our favorite sparkling wine houses up there, plus special New Year's treats for 7x7 readers.
On the Silverado Trail and the first winery in America to achieve an ISO certification, Mumm is an elegant place to taste, but also laid back and fun. Pick a table on the patio or on the veranda with views across the valley and order flights or bottles. Or, if it's a nicer day, kick your feet up in a reclining wicker chair and sip amidst the vines. As for what to get, Mumm makes a wide range of excellent wines, but I highly recommend the DVX. Once you are feeling good and bubbly, take a tour of their provocative art gallery.(Mention 7x7 and get 15% off wines, tours and tasting.)
Nestled in Calistoga, Schramsberg produces the most poured and talked about bottles in the valley. Its candlelit caves and earthy, forestry vibe, make this winery a top pick. It's also got history: The Davies family has owned Schramsberg for generations and is one of the founding families credited with making the valley what it is today. Schramsberg requires reservations, so be sure to book in advance. Here, I'd recommend a complete tasting as their wines are excellent at all levels (small bubbles, balanced, round flavors). (Order Online and enter the coupon code “7x7” for free ground shipping on orders of six or more bottles through January 31, 2011).
Atop a hill, the Chateau of Domaine Carneros recalls a French Palace. Tastings here can range from a private fireside experience to a kick-back on their vineyard-view deck. Domaine is a great place for an impromptu tasting too - it's conveniently located just off Highway 29, the main highway in Napa. And even if you don't usually go for sparkling rose, try it here. It's truly something special.
(Mention 7x7 for a complimentary upgrade from a classic Sparkling Wine Sampler to a Grande Tasting, expires 1/31/11).
In Yountville, Domaine Chandon features a stream and a pond, lush trees, a covered bridge, a swanky tasting room and its own restaurant, étoile. Chandon also hosts a fine collection of photography, sculptures and paintings from local artists. And for the brunch-inclined, the winery features a "Bright Eyed and Bubbly Menu," featuring mimosas and bellinis coupled with pastries.